HighLights of Shipbuilding in Cardigan
1.) Over 100 ships were built in Cardigan between 1825 and 1920
2.) The busiest years were 1853 – 1878.
3.) The busiest sites were the Owen shipyard and the James E. Macdonald shipyard located across the river from one another. The Owen shipyard was below Kelso Gordon’s on the south side of the river and James E’s was on the north side of the Cardigan river beside the first government wharf.
4.) Cardigan’s busiest resident shipwright was Duncan MacLaren.
5.) Most vessels were brigantines, some were schooners, some barques, some brigs.
6.) The largest vessel was the ship "Thomas Bold" of 631 tons built by A & T Owen Co. for Robert Long in 1837.
7.) Most vessels had two masts, some had three.
8.) Most vessels were sold (mainly to England) but some were used for trade.
9.) The last of the wooden hulled sailing vessels built in P.E.I. were the “Victory Chimes”, the “Barbara Macdonald”, and the “Anna Macdonald”. They were built for Sen. John A. Macdonald by Kimble Coffin of Mount Stewart who built the “Victory Chimes” and Duncan MacLaren of Cardigan who built the “Barbara Macdonald” and the “Anna Macdonald”. They were built in the years 1918-1920. A small schooner the “Charlotte M”, built by Capt. Charles Fitzgerald of Georgetown, was also launched during this time.
10.) Shipbuilding spanned near a century with beginnings in the mid 1820’s and continuing until 1920.
11.) Major players: Arthur & Thomas Owen, James Peake, L.C. Owen and William Welsh, James E. Macdonald, John A. Macdonald – (Owners/builders), Duncan MacLaren, Arthur Owen (master builder/shipwright).
12.) Minor players: James Mucklejohn, John G. Scrimgeour, Donald Stewart, Donald MacAulay, Duncan Robertson, Hodgson, Hugh L. MacDonald, Davies, Campbell.
13.) One vessel, the “Elfin” was screw-propelled by steam
14.) The contribution of the shipbuilding industry to the economy of the area surrounding Cardigan was significant. Farmers bringing wood, skilled workers (Millers, carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.) bringing home a wage, shipping revenues from the sale of vessels and/or cargo all contributed to the welfare of the region.
Cardigan River Heritage Center which is Located at
4537 Wharf Road